Review of Hazel Thornton’s book “What’s a Photo Without the Story?”
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One of the latest organizing books to hit the market is by Hazel Thornton of Organized for Life… and beyond.
If you’ve been reading Your Organizing Business for a while, you probably know Hazel, either through the blog or your other organizing connections. She’s been participating in the Productivity & Organizing Blog Carnival since 2011, made her 50th contribution in 2018, earning the status of Megastar Blogger, and has sponsored several editions, including Organizing for Your Legacy, Organizing and Mental Health, and Decision-Making. In addition, she’s written seven guest posts and has been featured in an organizer interview. She’s also been a happy client of mine since 2012!
For all these reasons, I wanted to read her first non-fiction book, Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror. I wasn’t familiar with the case, but it gave me an excellent overview and piqued my interest enough to watch and appreciate Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders when it came out on TV.
I had yet another reason to read Hazel’s latest book, What’s a Photo Without the Story?: How to Create Your Family Legacy.
My long-time interest in family history was re-awakened a few years ago when Hazel researched my pedigree chart. Her findings enabled me to conduct further research and piqued my interest even further. I’ve since declared myself the family historian and have gathered most of the old photos and documents my parents collected during their lives. I’ve been wanting to organize what I have in a way that will be interesting to other family members, especially the younger generations. It’s been a struggle to figure out how to go about it, so I was excited to learn that Hazel was writing this book and even more excited to read my copy.
The content is very well-organized, with chapters devoted to telling the stories, adding photos, delving into genealogy research, and even dealing with other types of memorabilia. Each chapter offers suggested activities to choose from depending on what you have, your level of interest, and the amount of time you have available. It became very clear that what I’m looking at probably isn’t a project to be completed, but a hobby to enjoy throughout my life. That awareness has removed some of the pressure I’d put on myself so now I can just relax and enjoy the process.
Realizing that there’s an abundance of how-to information on the internet, Hazel doesn’t try to reproduce it all in her book. Instead, she recommends online and offline resources for each activity. She also maintains resource lists on her website so you can always access up-to-date information. She even provides tips for doing your own online research, including a tactic that was new to me which will be valuable when doing business or personal searches.
I was mildly disappointed, but only because I was unrealistically expecting a step-by step formula to get me from disorganized to having something I’d be proud to share with my family, and I didn’t get that. What I got instead was a better understanding of why I’m stuck and why there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all process. As Hazel explains, before you can decide what you’re going to do or how you’re going to do it, you need to have a specific goal in mind. I should have realized that!
I recommend this book to professional organizers who don’t offer photo organizing services but would like to give suggestions to their clients, as well as to anyone who has boxes of old family photos and/or other memorabilia and no idea what to do with them.